Was Adolf Hitler Evil?

Is it fair to assert that Hitler was evil? Is it fair to assert that any human is evil? Recently I had an exchange in the comments of another blog on this subject.

It started honestly enough. The other commenter mentioned that Hitler was evil in some fashion. It struck me as odd that anyone could know that Hitler was ‘evil’ as this commenter seemed to know. So I asked about that.

I’d like to ask you an honest question. You have used the term ‘evil’ as though you know exactly what it means. Can you explain to me and the rest of the readers exactly what evil is? I’d truly like to know. Honest. I have trouble with general definitions used in cultural context and would like to know exactly what evil is.

The reply initially was honest enough, so I’ll post the whole initial reply

Can I define “evil”? Ummmm…. no! Humbly, with my tail between my legs, no!
But look, I don’t actually read anywhere that I wrote “evil”…. Save for the fact that I said you could not say one group of people was more evil than another.
But I will admit that evil could be implied when I used “bad”.
You could ask the same question about that word.

I’ve never known evil in an academic sense. I have felt evil, whether in myself, in a situation, in another person, in studying history, but to define it, I don’t think I can.

I would say that evil is what goes against my moral code, as I believe this is one dictionary’s example (don’t have any dictionaries in front of me so don’t quote me on that).
That’s a pretty limited view.

It would be pointless to give you my Christians perspective, but I think a good guide for me, is that evil is anything that goes against my Christian religion. By religion I mean what the Bible says is religion according to James 1:27 “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Or perhaps it is that which is against the command to love your neighbor as yourself (by the way contrary to Dawkins this does not mean love your fellow Jew, as the story of the good Samaritan is in response to this very question.)

But perhaps evil is merely that which we deem to be against our own moral code. If we have no moral code I suppose then evil could be relative.

But not being able to define Evil is a problem for all in this discussion. So I would be careful going down that route.

Good question.

So I replied

Thank you for that honest reply. I do not have a problem with defining evil… I simply don’t. What is not in line with my morality is simply immoral or not what I agree with. To me, for something to be evil it must transgress objective morality which cannot exist. If you can claim objective morality then you must be able to define evil. When everything is relative, then evil has no meaning outside our own interpretations of ethical behavior. That means it is one thing for one person and another thing for another person and thus having no objective meaning. That you cannot define it is … well, telling. I have no problem with my definition of evil: it is a state or act which does not exist. At best it is a judgement of one against another based on prejudicial ethics. Evil does not exist, it is a label, nothing more. Those who use the term (and you did) are judging others while wearing personalized blinders.

That kicked off a bit of an exchange. you can go read the whole thing of course, but I’m going to talk about my thoughts that sprung from that exchange.

It did not take long for me to think of this in a way that I’d not thought before. To define evil in the good vs. evil kind of religious way you have to rely on absolute or objective morality. Like I said, objective morality does not exist. So I wondered how I might demonstrate that and I hit on a good example. Hitler did many horrendous things and in the Bible we have Joshua who did many horrendous things. The difference being that believers generally believe that Joshua is good because he did what he did while acting in the name of his god, and indeed the holy text bears this out and declares Joshua’s god as culpable in the horrendous acts he carried out.Your average Christian will claim that Hitler was not a Christian despite all the evidence to the contrary, so his acts were not righteous.

This sets up a series of questions with which we can compare and contrast to help us look for a definition of evil. The Biblical account say that Joshua was a righteous warrior for his god and acted in his name while committing horrendous atrocities. Hitler wrote that he was doing the work of his god and protecting his god’s work when he committed horrendous atrocities of a very similar nature. Despite the fair comparison most believers will tell you that former was good and the latter was evil, and further that there is objective morality.

If we hypothetically assume that there is objective morality, then Hitler must have been lying because the Bible story is all true says the believer. But then how do we know that Joshua was not lying? The Bible was written before WWII so Hitler cannot have been included. Objective morality, as our believer friends will tell us, says that acting in the name of god means it is justified and righteous. Hitler claims to have been acting to protect his god’s work and doing his god’s work. We cannot know that his god did not talk to him and instruct him in ways that the Bible says the god of Abraham spoke to Joshua. How then can we know if Hitler was evil?

If we claim that Hitler lied about his god ties, then objective morality stands. If we admit we cannot know if the god of Abraham ordered him to act as he did, and it certainly fits the god of Abraham’s modus operandi, it becomes difficult to declare Hitler as evil.In fact, the god of Abraham was almost fond of punishing the Jewish people through other humans via slavery and war etc.

It begins to appear that the horrendous atrocities committed are not in themselves good or bad, but the inspiration for the acts which is good or bad. If the god of Abraham says to do them it’s righteous. If a human does it of their own volition it is evil. This makes morality subject to the whim of a god, so it is subjective and not objective.This makes it even more difficult to declare Hitler as evil.

A side effect of this is that if morality is objective and Hitler is evil, then the god of Abraham is evil because of his culpability in the atrocities committed by Joshua. So the Christian believer can have objective morality but an evil god or subjective morality and a good god. Unfortunately they are fond of claiming that objective morality exists and it is ‘given’ to humanity by their god. That very gift implies strongly that their god is evil… unless they are willing to say that Hitler was not evil if he was doing his god’s work. Hitler was an avowed Catholic so his god was the god of Abraham.

So either the god of Abraham is evil or you cannot call Hitler evil with any kind of certainty. If the god of Abraham is not evil and Hitler really did have messages from his god, then Hitler is not evil, and in view of his claims of ‘doing god’s work’ it would be unfair to call him evil.

So, is the god of Abraham evil? Was Hitler not evil? Or… is morality subjective and the god of Abraham not the source of morality?

Does anyone see any problem with this kind of reasoning? Let me know in the comments.

UPDATE

And then there is this

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  1. I can only imagine the amount of ‘ad hoc’ you went through during your discussion. Love the post:)

    • I hesitated and did not mention that the ten commandments show us that murder is bad unless god tells you to do it. Also not mentioned is that in one line of this logic, only the followers of the god of Abraham can commit genocide and still be thought good. It might be no wonder that so many claim the label of Christian?

  2. I don’t think he’s “evil” as in the entity. His actions, however, can be defined as being evil.

    • Yes, there are dictionary definitions that would allow such thought. However we many other have perfectly suitable words that do not imply the ‘good vs. evil’ stigma. We might just say he was a psychopath with delusions of grandeur, a ton of anger issues, and a great PR machine. There is no reason to invoke thoughts of good vs. evil. I doubt that very many will argue that he was good. I just have issues with theists calling him evil. As I explained, it’s quite possible to see the actions as neither good nor evil if morality is based on the inspiration for the acts, as in if your god tells you to commit genocide it’s morally good, otherwise it’s always morally wrong. To say the act is immoral means that morality is subjective and quite probably that the god of Abraham is immoral, or definitely can be seen that way.

      • I disagree. I think it’s easy to determine evil. Hitler was not a psychopath, he was in control of his thoughts and actions. I agree he probably had anger issues, but his evil actions were driven my hatred and as you mentioned, ambition. I don’t think you should worry about the word “evil.” People can commit evil acts on their own, they do not always need the devil to persuade them (though it helps). (And I think the “mental illness” slant is a tenuous, overused excuse/defense to commit wanton acts off evil–especially murder–THAT would be more of a cause for concern.) Devil or not, even God judges people on their own actions, their own free will–they would not be able to use Satan as their defense. As for your claim of God calling for genocide, that is a false assertion.

        • Interestingly, Joshua’s god did not say commit genocide. Instead he said kill every living thing, take the gold and silver and burn the rest and that he would prevent anyone from rebuilding there forever. This is a couple of steps up the ladder from genocide. The atrocities committed by Joshua were on a scale much larger than what Hitler did even if the body count was lower. Hitler killed a lot of Jews. Joshua obliterated entire genetic lines, entire cities/countries/clans. Hitler killed people. Joshua destroyed everything, men, women, children, animals, structures, belongings…. everything. His god guaranteed that no person would even rebuild on the city sites where Joshua committed his genocidal acts. Complete destruction… forever.

          You want to blame Hitler for his actions yet you cannot know for certain that the god of Abraham did not tell him to do what he did. Hitler himself said he was doing god’s work, just as Joshua was doing his god’s work.

          Do you know what people said of most serial killers? They were average, nice people. They were in control of their actions. Still, they were psychopaths.

          While you may believe that the Christian god judges people on their actions, he does not do so equally. Joshua was commanded to do horrendous things yet you think that the same god will judge Hitler differently for doing horrendous things that were not as thorough.

          So, exactly what is the difference between a human that commits an evil act and a warrior for god who commits the same act but in the name of their god?

          How do YOU know that Hitler was not acting on the orders of his god?

          • “Do you know what people said of most serial killers? They were average, nice people. They were in control of their actions. Still, they were psychopaths.”

            Which proves my point; it they are shrewd enough and have their wits together enough to be able to so ingeniously hide their misdeeds and ill intentions, then they should not be classified as “psychos.” As though they have an illness or disorder that they have no control over. If they can be in such control of themselves to deceive so many, they can control themselves when it comes to murdering others. But they won’t control themselves because they want to do evil. Whether that evil stemmed from evil that was done to them is another story–nevertheless it is no excuse. Yes, they’re are genuinely mentally disturbed people who can’t help but lash out at others or even themselves. These people cannot hide their disorders because they have a genuine medical issue.

            That aside, I agree with some of the aspects that you had mentioned. There have seen justifications made for the actions demanded by God (e.g., the people were sinners and were spreading disease and death), but the issues you brought up are no less valid from our viewpoint today. A similar argument can be made with creating such a deadly flood. But on the other hand, shouldn’t a creator that created life out of nothingness in their first place be able to take it away as well as he sees fit?

            • Actually, the definition of psychopath is or can be considered as:

              Clinical concepts that might in some aspects be related to theories of psychopathy today are thought to have emerged in the early 19th century. In 1801, Philippe Pinel described, without moral judgment, patients who appeared mentally unimpaired but who nonetheless engaged in impulsive and self-defeating acts. He described this as Manie sans délire (insanity without confusion or delusion) or la folie raisonnante (rational insanity), and his anecdotes generally described people carried away by instincte fureur (instinctive fury). Benjamin Rush wrote in 1812 about individuals with an apparent “perversion of the moral faculties” which he saw as a sign of innate defective organization. He also saw such people as objects of compassion whose mental alienation could be helped, even if that needed to be in prisons or what he referred to as the “christian system of criminal jurisprudence”.[12] In 1835 James Cowles Prichard developed a broad diagnostic category called moral insanity, referring to “madness” of emotional or moral dispositions without significant delusions or hallucinations. Prichard generally referred more to eccentric behaviour than out of control passions, though his diagnosis became widely used. None of these concepts are directly comparable to later diagnostic categories of psychopathy in the specific sense, or even to personality disorders. Moreover, “moral” did not necessarily refer at that time to morality, it could just mean psychological or emotional.[13]

              There is nothing available that says Hitler could not have been psychopathic. There is also nothing available to prove that the god of Abraham did not order Hitler to do as he did.

              As for a creator being able to do as he wishes with his creations — this only proves that morality is subjective and not objective. To follow with such a thought one has to prove that a creator exists. To me, even if there were proof that the god of Abraham were THE creator god, I would not worship such a deity. In my mind, if Hitler is evil, so is that god. If that creator god does not like my attitude, he should have done a better job of the creating. I cannot believe that such a being is perfect, nor all that such a being did was perfect. After all, he apparently made me an anti-theist.

              • First of all, Hitler never claimed that God was telling him to do what he did. Secondly, if he did make such a claim, it would have been expected that he provide proof–such as in the form of a miracle. Hitler never had to provide such proof because he made no such claim, thus you cannot say that Hitler was acting upon God’s orders.

                As for the definition of psychotic, I’m not arguing with you on whether or not Hitler could fit within the definition of the condition–I just completely reject the supposed “condition” altogether. This is something that a few men arbitrarily decided was true (based on the criteria they created) and they came up the terminology (jargon) for it. It doesn’t make it a biological fact. And it wouldn’t be surprising to me if creating a defense for the indefensible in a court of law (for those with influence and means), was a primary motivating factor for diagnosing normal, healthy people who do bad/evil things as being “psychotic/psychopathic.”

                As for your views on God’s actions and those of homicidal/genocidal human beings, I have something to say of that as well–if you will allow me to continue this tomorrow.

                • Hitler did actually claim that he was doing god’s work. There is no doubt that he was Christian, nor any doubt that the Catholic church gave what can only be described as support. You judge the faith of Hitler but you would not have anyone judge your faith? Who are you to say he was not a saint? Who are you to say that your god did not talk to him? Please explain this.

  3. I go along with the idea that there is no objective “evil”, only, as you say, actions that we find (subjectively) immoral.

    Regarding “Love your neighbor”, Dawkins is right and your Christian friend is wrong. Jesus told the story of “the good Samaritan” to raise the issues of appropriate behavior towards your fellow Jews, and of whether the Samaritans (who most Jews despised) should actually be considered Jews and respected for their worship of the god of Abraham (even if they had – and have – a different holy mountain and view of where the Temple should be, etc.)

    • Wow, that was stated so scholarly as to seem devoid of world view. I read that twice and I think you agree with me. It also seems that you poke fun of 2000 year old superstitions and cultural contexts. I mean, probably neither of us are living on a holy mountain. If I remember that story right, Jesus was hesitant to provide help to a non-jew, so I’m not sure what the Samaritan story actually tells us. The contradictions in the New Testament alone are enough to invalidate any thought that it is true.

      Nice to have your comment, thanks.

  4. “Hitler did actually claim that he was doing god’s work.”

    Though having actual quotes would help, let’s assume that Hitler did say that he was doing “God’s work.” Someone saying that they’re doing God’s work is quite different from saying that God is talking to them and giving them specific orders. A man preaching can claim he’s doing “God’s work.” Someone helping the poor, could be “doing God’s work.” Saying that you are doing “God’s work” does not necessarily suggest direct communication with God. Thus Hitler’s claim can be easily dismissed by any true Christian as God said “Thou shalt not kill.”

    If you were able to create life out of non-life or out of thin air, I could not tell you what to do with those lifeforms. Nor would I call you “genocidal” because none of those lifeforms would exist in the first place if it were not for you. Such is the case with God. And I believe God’s agenda and approach had clearly changed after bringing Christ into the world.

    You cannot compare human beings killing other human beings because they played no role in creating humanity in the first place. Thus, they have no right to take away what’s not theirs.

    • Actual quotes? It’s in Mein Kampf which should take you about 5 seconds to find using a competent search engine. We don’t have to assume.

      Now there you go, telling us you know what happened. You don’t know that the god of Abraham did not talk to Hitler, and you dismiss the idea as easily as belief in gods can be dismissed. The god of Abraham did proclaim that thou shalt not kill … unless I tell you to kill. You did read the Old Testament, right?

      Now you insist that all humans are the property of some being that you can’t even prove the existence of.
      Further you claim that morality does not apply to that being, that morality is in fact whatever that deity thinks it should be on whatever whim strikes him. So next week, killing female babies could be moral. Don’t argue that this won’t happen because you cannot know the mind of your god or any god. By the way, the definition of genocidal does not change based on who does it. Saying that it is acceptable depending on who does it is subjective morality. If the morality of your god is subjective, you lose the ability that claim that morality is objective and given to us by your god.

      While you might think the new testament changed everything, about the only thing that changed was the ability of humans to declare that natural disasters are the work of a vengeful and wrathful god. In fact, none of the OT laws were changed by Jesus appearance on the scene. It can be argued that the authors of the New Testament had been exposed to Greek and far Eastern philosophies and wove it into the fabric of the stories they wrote. Just the same, Matthew was not ready to surrender those laws to history.

      Matthew 5:18 NIV, New International Version:
      I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

      Again with the property thing, so slavery is quite acceptable if you can claim to have created those slaves. So if you breed your own, it’s ok? No, that is not a twisting of your words. Even if the Christian holy texts are to be accepted, your god created only two people and then he threw them away to take care of themselves. He did not create all the rest. If you want to argue that he did, it can be argued that all children of slaves were created as slaves by the slave owner and thus they have the right to treat them in any way they wish but we can look at your holy text and find that this is not true. The Christian Bible clearly outlines what is permissible and not permissible in the way that you treat your slaves. You’re suggesting that such law as your god commands does not apply to your god. Again we have strong evidence for subjective morality rather than objective morality. Note: Jesus did not ever say that slavery was wrong or even that it should be avoided.

      I can compare Hitler and Joshua because from any viewpoint that you do not share they look the same. You dismiss what you cannot know to be wrong about Hitler’s ties to the god of Abraham. You are doing what atheists are accused of doing in order to support the validity of your god ordering the senseless slaughter of entire blood lines – genocide, or what most of us call a crime against humanity.

      • You can’t compare people breeding two human beings, or a mother bearing a child; to the actual act of creation. Did human beings create the gametes that make life possible? No, God did when he created the first human beings fully equipped to reproduce.

        And I know that God was not talking to Hitler because Hitler didn’t even claim God was talking to him. He may have claimed to be doing “God’s work” by that is a reflection of this twisted interpretation of what God’s work is. Besides, Hitler was a staunch evolutionist and eugenicist; hardly a Christian. He simply associated himself with the Catholic church for political purposes.

        • First, the ‘no true Scotsman’ argument is wrong. The no true Christian argument is just as wrong. Who put you in charge of deciding how people should interpret the holy texts? Finally, NO, just no. You cannot know if your god was talking to Hitler. If you could that would make it testable by scientific means. Are you saying that it is?

          Sure, you can claim that your god created everything so nothing can be created by humans. You’re wrong, but go on believing that. The banana you know today was not created by your god. Miniature dogs were not created by your god. Cloned animals were not created by your god. At one time, even recently, believers in your god claim that your god created storms and natural disasters. Do you believe that to be true also? By selecting which chemicals will be mixed together we can create humans in the same way we select the ingredients for a cake. Does your god create all the cakes in the world? It’s is getting silly, but you simply cannot claim that god is responsible for everything that is created no matter what efforts humans put into the process. You certainly have no proof of such. Do you believe that medical treatments to improve fertility are of the devil? Or was your god simply not interested in those babies? Your god cannot be responsible for everything unless you believe things like the recent tornadoes in the USA was your god punishing those believers for some misdeed or other.

          • Wow this is a loaded question. I will get back to this later today.

            I wanted to add that I appreciate that you are not condescending as were a few atheists that I have encountered. When they do this, it makes it difficult to give any consideration to their point of view–and easier to reject all that they say. The points you have made did not go without consideration and reflection.

          • “First, the ‘no true Scotsman’ argument is wrong. The no true Christian argument is just as wrong.”

            If you want me to accept that, then YOU have to accept anyone claiming to be an atheist as one of yours as well. So if a crazy “atheist” starts harassing and harming people, supposedly doing so in the name of “atheism,” you cannot dismiss him as just some crazy guy. It doesn’t matter if there is nothing written that calls for what this “atheist” is doing to others; you cannot decide how others interpret what it is to be an atheist.

            “The banana you know today was not created by your god. Miniature dogs were not created by your god. Cloned animals were not created by your god.”

            Of course selective breeding can display a variety of traits available in the genetic code. Does that mean that man can take credit for creating that code in the first place? No. And another thing is that many of those dogs SUFFER from selective breeding–they don’t evolve into something better or even simply something different. Because their gene code is artificially limited by inbreeding with other animals with their own traits, many are born with or develop certain genetic diseases. Dachshunds with their spinal problems and pugs with their respiratory problems are just a couple of examples. Have you see dogs that can barely keep their heads up because it’s too large for their bodies? This is what selfish human beings do to other animals in order to get the “cute” or “pretty” animals that they want. They are not creating life, they are simply making alterations to life that was already there–usually to the detriment of those lifeforms.

            “By selecting which chemicals will be mixed together we can create humans in the same way we select the ingredients for a cake. Does your god create all the cakes in the world?”

            You don’t create humans. As I had mentioned earlier, you simply used the gametes giving to you by God in the first place. Some people have fertility issues or difficulty conceiving and can be helped by artificial means. But those issues are usually caused by man’s exposing man to all kinds of chemical toxins in the environment and in the food supply in the first place–you cannot blame God for what man does. And no, God didn’t make cakes, but he certainly made the ingredients available to you to make it and consume it in the first place.

            There is no such thing as “man made.” Man can only alter materials that were already there to create their “man made” (artificial) products. And most of these products may be handy but are not usually best for our healths or the environment, wouldn’t you agree?

            • I wanted to add that cloning is also simply altering what was already created for us. And, as usual, something inferior to the original. Those cloned sheep live half as long as regular sheep and often suffer from genetic problems throughout their short lives (often dying of cancer).

            • The ‘no true Scotsman’ argument works if you claim that he can’t be one of your tribe because he’s not a real Christian. Who said all atheists hold the same world view? Hell, there are plenty of crazy people that don’t believe in gods, but they are not using the lack of belief as an excuse for what they do. I do not speak for any other atheist and no other atheist speaks for me. This is how it is, has been, will always be. I don’t belong to a club any more than all people who wear green clothing belong to a club and am no more responsible for what another atheist does than I would be for what someone does who happens to wear the same color shirt as me. You do not seem to understand that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in gods. It says absolutely nothing else about me. The ‘no true atheist’ BS is just that and you will find that I criticize atheists who say we must all think and behave alike. Have a look at the posts on my blog.

              No, I don’t agree. There are man made things. Your god did not make everything. You have no evidence for any such idea. Your insistence that there are no man made things completely ignores any value of human kind. Such self effacing thought is fraught with problems, no matter how you think them.

              Of course, if you want to credit your god with all the bad stuff as well as the good stuff, like cancer, autism, crib death, miscarriages, heart failures, earthquakes, gamma radiation, the black plague, AIDS, starvation, sin, satan, demons, demonic possession, and evil etc. then your god is relegated to a position of culpability for creating, destroying, misleading, and torturing humanity, and creating more havoc in the universe than can be explained in a legion of librarys full of books. Lets not even get into the part where the Bible then has to be one of the greatest lies ever told. Hey, it’s your call. If your god is responsible for all things … well, then he’s responsible for all things. I don’t think you wanted to do that, but ok.

              • As I had said, man is responsible for corrupting and altering God’s creations. Altering, not creating. So how would you blame God for what man altered?

                You criticize atheists who claim that all atheists think and behave alike. So do I of atheists who make that claim about Christians. Twisted people can be atheists and twisted people can be Christians. Does that mean we should blame Christianity (or one’s atheism/lack of believe in God) for what these people do? Of course not, but atheists do this all the time when speaking of Christians and Christianity.

                • So, your god is not responsible for creating everything then? Man created the corruption and alteration of divine creations? I don’t think that jives with your previous position. Oh, corruption is not creation. I see. Your god created the corruption and alteration of divine creation then? If he created that too why then does he want to punish mankind for it? All this ‘god made everything’ is just not making sense to me.

                  You’ve got this part wrong. Not believing in gods does not confer a world view or any specific set of values or ethics. Claiming to be Christian does. Unless of course you are saying that Christians do not have a shared set of values or ethics. You really do need to get this point right. I insist. What you are asserting is the same as saying that all people who do not believe in Vishnu share a common set of ethics or values, and I’m going to bet you’ll say that they don’t.

                  Slavery was prolonged in the USA not because slave owners don’t believe in gods, nor particularly because they do, but exactly because your holy book says it’s ok. In this respect Christianity “attracts” nut jobs to some extent. Priests are not raping children because they don’t believe in gods. So why is it that Christendom seems to be attracting so many nut jobs when its creed specifically says that these things are wrong. Yes, of course twisted people can claim to be Christians or Muslims or Jews or Buddhists. That clearly means that believing in a god or gods does not alter your behavior or benefit you in some way that mediates your twisted nature. We could then argue that good Christians are only good because they would be good without faith, and that faith has little to nothing to do with their goodness.

                  Christians and others of faith claim a creed, not simply a lack of something. Not believing does not confer a world view or creed or set of value/ethics. Claiming to be a Christian does. If it did not there would be little to argue about and there would be only one kind of Christian sect instead of 30,000+ sects. There are so many exactly because Christians cannot agree on what their values and creed should be but they all, to a person, believe that they live by a set of values and morals that is given to them by their god and by being Christian. So when Christians do not call out those that act in their name for being wrong it is proper for others to criticize and even mock. Yes, why yes it is your duty to explain to the world that the crazy Christian is not a real Christian and how you know this. Trust me, those of us who are not Christians cannot tell the difference so if you won’t point it out you really are birds of a feather to us. It’s that simple.

                  I have never claimed per se to believe anything another atheist believes, only that I do not believe in gods and so we have one thing in common. Nothing more. Not believing in gods is not a club, group, organization, creed, world view, fad, clique, or even a social group. Just like not being an aborigine is none of those things. For Christianity it is a different thing. Christians even have their own buildings to meet in, get special tax breaks so they can afford to meet, demand special consideration under the law for their faith based beliefs which are not shared by all.

                  So get this right. I insist. Atheism is nothing more than a lack of beliefs in gods. If you think you can infer something about an atheist, you should ask yourself if it makes sense to say the same thing about people who do not collect stamps or people that are not aborigine, or people that don’t wear bright green latex. If it makes sense to say it about all those people then it might make sense to say it about atheists… but you might want to check with an atheist to make sure before you say it in public if you want to ensure you don’t embarrass yourself with it.

                  • “You’ve got this part wrong. Not believing in gods does not confer a world view or any specific set of values or ethics. Claiming to be Christian does. Unless of course you are saying that Christians do not have a shared set of values or ethics. You really do need to get this point right. I insist.”

                    You may have a strong view on what is is to be an atheist, but I can tell you that many atheists would disagree with you on your definition. Many atheists have told me that they have a need to get rid of the cancer/disease which is religion/Christianity. Many see it as a political movement–like being a feminist. So to say that atheism is “simply” this, or “simply” that is just not true. It’s relative and who are you to decide what atheism is and what it’s limits are? See the parallel here? My point?

                    And yes, child molesting priest obviously don’t believe in God or they would fear His wrath. Wouldn’t it make more sense to conclude that many pedophiles choose to be priests because they are given so much freedom and protection as abusers?

                    • The desire to get rid of religions is not about not believing in gods. It’s because religions ruin everything. Look at the nutjobs which it attracts, and then protects. It has nothing to do with not believing in gods… or not much. Religion DOES ruin everything it touches. You might wish to show me I’m wrong but there are some very convincing arguments that I’m right on this. You don’t have to be an atheist to want the world free of harmful religions. The two might go hand in hand, but not believing in gods does not require that you want the world to be free of religions. Like I said, I’m not speaking for others nor do they speak for me. Look in the dictionary – it doesn’t say atheists want to destroy religion. That’s not the definition. There are plenty of agnostics who would like to see religion go away… and they won’t even claim to be atheists. You’re barking up the wrong tree… again. You still have not accounted for the questions that I’ve put. If man can’t create corruption then your god is responsible for me being an atheist. How does this stuff work in your world view? It is not making any sense to me the way you have explained it so far.

                • Oh, you didn’t actually address the point where your thinking says that your god is responsible for all the evil in the world… for he created all things including sin, evil, mankind etc.

                  How does that work exactly?

                  • That’s easy. Free will. What makes God’s creation so great is that along with the ability to reproduce, they are not programmed robots or automatons. They are bestowed with the freedom of though and action. But of course, their are consequences for sinful/evil acts.

                    • Free will? Right. Your doctrine say that your god created humans as broken, sick creatures then commanded them to make themselves well or he will burn them forever… and this is not a choice that can be ignored for even if you never hear about the word of your god then you burn in hell forever. Where is there free will in this? You might as well say that slaves had free will or that battered women have free will, or prisoners have free will. To some extent they might have the freedom to make choices yet the choices they are permitted to make are not of their choosing and the only choice that does not cause pain was given to them by someone else. There is no free will under the dominion of your god.

                      You still haven’t explained why your god created evil. Free will is not good enough. Your god worked hard to ensure that there is evil in the world and even commanded that evil acts be done in his name. Free will does not explain these problems. Your doctrine says I’m to blame for what Adam and Eve did. That I’m guilty because your god says I am, not because I’ve corrupted his creation. Your doctrine says I was born this way and had no choice in the matter. I was not given free will according to your doctrine. I have never had it, nor can I have it according to Christian doctrine. Whether or not you think I have free will it does not explain why your god went to so much effort to both ensure that there is evil in the world and to actually cause it on so many situations.

                      I started this post positing that you cannot call Hitler evil if Joshua and your god are not. Here we are, going in circles to some extent, and you have yet to explain why your god created, nurtured, and executed so much evil on the world. Is evil evil just because your god says so, or is it evil because such a thing is objectively so. Your explanations are not helping me understand. It still makes no sense to me.

                    • If you mean God creating Lucifer, keep in mind that he did not start out as being “evil.” He made his own choices. Why would God allow such evil to continue to exist? Good question. Along with your other question on why man is allowed to corrupt his perfect creations. I can’t pretend to know the answers to these questions and yes, all of the “whys” and “what ifs” are infinite and this argument could go on forever.

  5. And if we are to accept your definition on what it is to be an atheist, I think you should check this article out. Survey says that most inmates are without God/religion. That would be by your definition an “atheist.”

    http://thoughtfulfaith.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/atheists-in-prison/

  6. You’ll have to give me a pass on this one for a bit. The source data page won’t load for me right now. I won’t comment much on any accuracies or conclusions till I see the data but just for fun, even using the numbers on the page you link to that would mean that almost 70% of inmates believe in gods. I’m not sure what you’re trying to show with this. It doesn’t look good for belief and if I remember right, there is several rebuttals to this page which show the numbers much more in line with the general population when interpreted without bias. Just the same, faith and religion doesn’t keep you out of prisons, being good does and no faith is required for that.

  7. @synapticcohesion
    “If you mean God creating Lucifer, keep in mind that he did not start out as being “evil.” He made his own choices. Why would God allow such evil to continue to exist? Good question. Along with your other question on why man is allowed to corrupt his perfect creations. I can’t pretend to know the answers to these questions and yes, all of the “whys” and “what ifs” are infinite and this argument could go on forever.”

    It doesn’t have to go on forever. All that is required is thought and investigation to find the answers. If all these important questions about your god are unanswerable what conclusion would you come to? Why do you settle for non-answers and mystery on questions which are so important as to have an impact on you that lasts for infinity? I ask such questions because I could not find answers for them myself. I find that no one else does either, no matter their claims of personal relationships with an omnipotent, omniscient deity. So it has been and Christianity looks to me like superstition where I have no choice but to believe and am not permitted to question. When I do question there are no answers. When I opine that this or that might not be true I’m always told that I’m wrong, that god works in mysterious ways, that I’m not interpreting the text correctly… in short, I’m told that it’s me that wrong for asking the question. Truth does not need protection from apologetics nor enforcement by human guardians to protect it from questioning minds. Truth is truth and it stands on its own, and it must be true for all peoples, all times. It must be true for the best of us and the least of us. I can find no other way to describe what truth is which does not include local bias of some kind. The only truth in the Christian holy texts were available before it was written from other sources – the bits about kindness and the law of reciprocity etc. These things were not novel ideas presented by the Jews or Jesus. Laws and guidance for living were present in the world long before the Jews or Jesus. Omitting these things from the texts we are left with nothing but a vengeful, wrathful, god of war whose love child is storied by plagiarising other religions that came before him. None of the stories make sense in the bright light of logic, reason, and a questioning mind. In short, the truth (if any) in the Christian holy texts came from somewhere else and the rest of it is of no use because it will not fit the requirements of what truth must be.

    I am always ready to hear new evidence, new perspectives. I just don’t find any. I look. Trust me. If it was not an important thing to me I’d not be writing this blog. I don’t think you have the answers that I’m looking for. I hope you find them. Good luck

  8. My take on this whole discussion is that (ignoring the sidetracks), Hitler was saying and doing no worse than Moses and Joshua, and for the same reason, with the same justification. Genocide, for the sake of ethnically uncontested control of territory and resources, in the name of doing God’s work (and God is reported to have intervened militarily to support Joshua). And therefore if Hitler was evil, so too are Moses, Joshua and God.

    I will link to this post and discussion from my own blog. Thank you both.

  9. While Hitler’s personal evil is his own it is sobering to recall that he was popularly elected in what was arguably one of the most cultured Christian nations of its time

    Atheists will emphasize his early Catholic heritage as if he really lived it, but this is only because they don’t want to admit that he was anti-Christian by the time he came to power … and must have been atheist to boot since he admired so much the “God is dead” philosopher Nietzsche.

    Evil is permitted, yes, even designed by God so that those who suffer under it can benefit from character transformation.This world is under the control of an evil power and that’s that. Until Satan’s dominion is overthrown, this is what we are going to experience.

    • So I take it that your judgement of Hitler is reliable? How can you know what was in his heart or that the Christian god did not order him to act as he did? How can you be so certain that your opinion is the right one?

      • He did say that. The other people who believed that God wanted Jews killed believed him.

        As long as you’re claiming that God wants you to do something that plenty of other people want done too, you can get away with it. Everyone involved will be certain that God really did approve because it fit with their own wishes so well. People are quite good at claiming that God’s will matches their own perfectly.

        • Yes they are. Though this is true, the notion of objective morality does seem to indicate that you can’t call Hitler evil… at least not without also inferring the possibility that the Christian god is evil.

          • Reminds me of this one since you mentioned objective morality

            • Awesome… I’ll link that one 🙂 Thanks

    • D
    • May 10th, 2012

    I’m going to ignore your actual arguments and just focus on the formatting. You say (A&B) or (not A & not B), but there are 2 other possibilities. (A and not B) and (not A and B). Those need to be addressed. Additionally moral objectivity is not dependent on the existence of God. In fact it would be weaker if it relied on God’s existence, as that is impossible to prove.

  10. D,
    I believe that you are wrong. If objective morality both are morally good or morally bad, but not one good and one bad.
    With subjective morality one can be morally good and the other morally bad as well as both good or both bad.
    The rest of my argument is just fine points of clarification.

  1. May 2nd, 2012
  2. September 7th, 2014
  3. June 6th, 2017

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